Christmas doesn't have to be a burden on the planet and your wallet. A study shows that Filipino millennials are planning to spend P15,350 for their Christmas shopping this year. Moreover, it’s not just overspending we should be worried about but the extra tons of “holitrash” that will greet us when the real holiday is over. From gift wrappers to actual presents, this excess of material goods could be detrimental to both our sanity and the environment.

Here are simple yet mindful choices that can make a real difference this Christmas.

1. Zero-Waste Christmas Decors

Chances are, your plastic Christmas tree, balls, ribbons, and other decors are rarely single use. Making do with what you already have and refusing to buy new ones will save you from unnecessary shopping trips, expense, and clutter. For the earth, this means less plastic and toxic waste. This conscious approach to decorating can even help you achieve a minimalist holiday aesthetic.

If minimalism is not your style, organize a décor swap with friends or neighbors and enjoy the real spirit of sharing.

2. Practice Sustainable Giving

Not all gifts should be store-bought, some can come from your own (or your mom’s) backyard! Succulents, grow kits, and seedlings are trendy gifts that promote green-living and mental well-being. Research reveals that just being around plants can help increase productivity by 15 percent!

Take your green gift to the next level by using recycled ceramic mugs, bowls, and jars to serve as pots. Who knows, your gift can spark a new, inexpensive, and earth-friendly hobby!

3. Mind your food waste

A typical Filipino Noche Buena can cost anywhere from P6,631 to P17,648. Making a conscious choice about how much food you make means less of your money goes to waste. According to the Eco Waste Coalition, holiday festivities devour huge amounts of food resources, create tons of food waste, and exacerbate the garbage disposal problem. 

Make your Noche Buena better for the planet. Cook less and choose dishes that can be made from scratch and local ingredients. Plan for leftovers by having reusable food containers ready, whether you are celebrating at home or attending a Christmas party (a sustainable host will offer leftovers to guests). There’s no shame in keeping perfectly edible leftovers–especially if they keep well and delicious for a long time.

4. Be thrifty with your Christmas Party Outfit

Throwback 90's, Gatsby Glam, Winter Wonderland. While they're all fun office party themes, dressing up for the occasion can snowball into a huge expense (and waste). And this happens even outside of holiday season. A recent survey reveals that 1/3 of Filipinos have thrown away clothing after wearing them only once.

Keep your fashion and carbon footprint low by shopping in your own closet first. If you can’t find anything that can be re-used or upcycled into a new outfit, visit the nearest ukay-ukay and you might be pleasantly surprised. You can also borrow clothing from family and friends or post a “looking for” status on social media to reveal other sources. Whatever you do, buying a new outfit for a single occasion should be your last option.

5. Replace material traditions with sustainable practices
It takes conscious effort to have a sustainable holiday. Sometimes, it means re-thinking old traditions that create more waste than value. Take this for an example: opening a savings jar! Ipon challenges are a thing these days so why not start one? Whoever saves the most by Christmas gets bragging rights. Savings can be used to pay off debt, start investing, or to support a worthy cause.

As much as we Filipinos love Christmas, we have to recognize its impact on personal spending and the environment. This year, let's focus more on the true meaning of the season rather than simply accumulating material stuff.

Lace Llanora Lace Llanora

Lace Llanora

Lace Llanora is the grand winner in the 2015 SINAG Awards and second runner up in the 2016 SINAG Awards. She shares ways on how to achieve financial goals and independence on her blog,